The history of late Miocene (Proto-Gulf) deformation on the Sonoran margin of the Gulf of California is key to understanding how Baja California was captured by the Pacific plate and how strain was partitioned during the Proto-Gulf period (12.5-6 Ma). The Sierra el Aguaje and Sierra Tinajas del Carmen are located in southwestern coastal Sonora, Mexico, and represent the eastern rifted margin of the central Gulf of California. The ranges are composed of volcanic units and their corresponding volcaniclastic units which are the result of persistent magmatic activity between 20 and 8.8 Ma, including three packages of basalt and andesite that make excellent paleomagnetic recorders. Based on cross cutting relations and geochronologic data for pre-, syn-, and post-tectonic volcanic units, most of the faulting and tilting in the Sierra El Aguaje is bracketed between 11.9 and 9.0 Ma, thus falling entirely within Proto-Gulf time.
A paleomagnetic investigation into possible vertical axis rotations in the Sierra el Aguaje has uncovered evidence of clockwise rotations between ~13º and ~105º with possible translations. These results are consistent with existing field relations, which suggest the presence of large (>45°) vertical axis rotations in this region. This evidence includes: a) abrupt changes in the strike of tilted strata in different parts of the range, including large domains characterized by E-W strikes b) ubiquitous NE-SW striking faults with left lateral-normal oblique slip, that terminate against major NW-trending right lateral faults, and c) obliquity between the general strike of tilted strata and the strike of faults. These rotations occurred after 12 Ma and largely prior to 9 Ma, thus falling into the Proto-Gulf period. Such large-scale rotations lend credence to the theory that the area inboard of Baja California was experiencing transtension during the Proto-Gulf period, rather than the pure extension that would be the result of strain partitioning between Sonora and the Tosco-Abreojos fault offshore Baja California.
|Advisor:||Gans, Phillip B.|
|Commitee:||Burbank, Douglas, Hacker, Bradley R.|
|School:||University of California, Santa Barbara|
|School Location:||United States -- California|
|Source:||MAI 51/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Geology, Geophysics, Plate Tectonics|
|Keywords:||Distributed transtension, Paleomagnetism, Proto-gulf, Sonora, Vertical axis rotations|
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